We use our jaws to eat, drink, talk, sing, laugh, and yawn. If something is out of alignment in the jaw, it can cause pain and discomfort not just during these basic daily activities but sometimes when you’re not even using it!
Unfortunately, jaw misalignments are fairly common and can be quite painful and disruptive to daily life. Many people seek the help of a doctor or dentist for pain in the jaw and teeth, but that can sometimes lead to expensive and even invasive procedures.
At Debole Chiropractic, many of our patients ask, “Can a chiropractor help with jaw misalignment?” And the answer is, Yes!
Chiropractic treatment for jaw misalignment can offer a less expensive, less invasive alternative to some of the treatments used by medical and dental practitioners.
Chiropractic jaw alignment and TMJ adjustments help ease pain and loosen tense muscles in the jaw to return the jaw to its proper position. In addition to treatment, our chiropractors also provide soft-tissue exercises you can perform at home to alleviate pain and keep the jaw in alignment when you’re on your own.
Read on to find out more.
What Causes a Misaligned Jaw?
The jaw contains two temporomandibular (TM) joints that sit just in front of each ear and connect the mandible (the lower jaw) to the temporal bone (the lower side of the skull).
These joints, the discs within the joints, and the surrounding ligaments and muscles work together to allow the jaw to move smoothly in all directions. When one part of this structure is out of alignment, it can lead to inflammation in the joint and other issues. The most common misalignment occurs when the disc within the TM Joint slides in front or behind the joint.
Jaw misalignment can result from several factors. The most common causes of jaw misalignment are stress, trauma to the head or face, grinding the teeth, poor posture, and whiplash or neck injuries. Other causes may include arthritis, disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ/TMD), and even lengthy dental procedures or careless dental work that changes the bite.
How Can You Tell if Your Jaw is Out of Alignment?
When dealing with jaw misalignment, symptoms may sometimes be mild or barely noticeable. However, if the misalignment persists, it could lead to severe pain and chronic conditions such as TMD (temporomandibular disorder).
Symptoms of a misaligned jaw include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Jaw pain, popping, clicking, and lockjaw
- Tinnitus, clogged ears, ear pain, or ear popping
- Slurred speech
- Neck pain
- Teeth grinding, cracked, worn, or broken teeth
- Inability to open or close the mouth fully
- Jaw opening to one side
- Neck misalignment
- Eye movement problems
- TMJ Pain or TMD
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a medical condition in which problems with the temporomandibular joint, surrounding muscles, and nerves cause chronic facial pain and may interfere with chewing, talking, and other jaw movements.
TMD causes pain in different parts of the face and head, including but not limited to: headaches, neck pain and stiffness, earaches, toothache, and more.
TMJ can refer to the temporomandibular joint but is also commonly used to describe a broad range of conditions that result in chronic inflammation and pain affecting the TM joints, including TMD.
How Can a Chiropractor Help Realign the Jaw?
The specifics of your jaw misalignment will determine which type of adjustment procedure the chiropractor will use for you. There are many different ways that jaw and TMJ pain can show up.
Some common jaw misalignment conditions that can be treated by a chiropractor include, but aren’t limited to:
- Degenerative TMJ disorder
- Polyarthritis of TMJ
- Osteoarthritis of TMJ
- TMJ Displacement
- Myofascial pain disorder
After a thorough assessment, the chiropractor will diagnose the condition of your jaw and then determine a treatment plan that is best for you.
There are a few different techniques the chiropractor may use to adjust your jaw.
Chiropractic jaw alignment treatments may include:
- Manual adjustment to the TM joint itself
- Manual adjustment to the muscles around the jaw through deep tissue massage
- Manual adjustment on the neck
- Soft tissue massage and adjustment of the jaw
- Exercises to strengthen the joint
- TMJ adjustment using a handheld, spring-loaded activator
Once alignment in the jaw is restored, you should notice your symptoms go away relatively quickly.
Realigning the Jaw (What to Expect)
Unlike most other chiropractic adjustments, a jaw realignment will generally not involve loud popping or cracking. It is far more gentle because adjusting the jaw is very precise. The deviation in a misaligned jaw may only be millimeters off, so it requires subtle precision.
The chiropractor may begin by adjusting your spine and neck. A misalignment in the spine can create tension in the neck that pulls on the muscles surrounding the jaw. Then they may assess the movement quality of the TM joint, as well as the position and movement of the muscles surrounding the jaw.
This is when the chiropractor will utilize one of the above-mentioned techniques to adjust the jaw itself. Adjustments are relatively quick and can provide relief almost immediately.
Don’t try to realign your own jaw! It’s never a good idea to try and pop your jaw back into place if it feels out of alignment. It’s difficult to realign the jaw correctly and relatively easy to cause more damage than good if you try on your own. It’s best to call an experienced chiropractor who can realign the jaw through careful adjustments.
After treatment at Debole Chiropractic, we will also show you techniques to help keep your jaw in alignment when you’re at home. If you know your jaw has come out of place and is causing you pain, it’s best to apply ice and make an appointment with a chiropractor asap.
Help for Your Jaw Pain Starts at Debole Chiropractic
If you think you may have symptoms of a misaligned jaw and live in the Victor area, contact our offices today. At Debole Chiropractic, we address the cause of your pain, not just the symptoms.
Our caring and knowledgeable team will help you figure out the best course of action to alleviate your pain and get you back to feeling yourself again.
For more information about our services, give us a call at (585) 433-5680 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment today!